So I have spent the last few days in Brooklyn, NY at a computational geometry conference (SoCG). This is the end of the second of three days. It has been a little exhausting. I am trying to meet as many of the big names in the field as possible. My advisor, Pankaj, knows everyone and his more senior grad students know many people as well. I am just trying not to say anything stupid, which is hard when the banquet is held on a yacht with an open bar. A professor from Duke, Lars, got me pretty drunk. On the way back from the cruise (we had to find the subway in Manhatten) a large group split. I somehow wound up on the subway with Pankaj, while Lars and others went off to more bars in midtown. I think Pankaj introduced me to some important people on the subway but I am not sure.
Many older grad students have been telling me what the point of conferences is. (Apparently its not to publish papers.) (1) Andrew Ladd : Conferences are like a reward for grad students. If you work hard and are successful, then you get sent to some nice place. (2) Nabil Mustafa : Conferences are a place to meet a few people (for possible collaboration) and then to enjoy yourselves. Attending the talks are not really important, most are not that related to what you are doing. (3) Yusu Wang : Conferences are a chance to network.
I think that they are a little of each. Although I did not have a paper here, I plan to (or at least hope to) publish in the future. I think conferences are a reward for grad students, but they also serve as a way for us to establish ourselves as researchers, meet other researchers, and figure out how research works. I don’t know how much I accomplished, but I am glad to have gotten a free trip to New York.
This is the official “I don’t feel like posting anything but I will because I think it’s needed and I’m going to make it 3 categories at that” post.
In other news, I bought a Sony CLIÉ PEG-TH55 over the weekend and saw Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban tonight. The PDA rocks (see right for self-portrait taken with it) a little more than Potter; having just undergone a 24-hour emergency re-read, the changes to the plot (much more extensive than in the previous movies [1 2]) were kind of annoying. The main characters were pretty static in this movie, although new characters Professor Lupin, Professor Trelawney, and Sirius Black were portrayed well. Considering the later books are much longer (and more complex), I wonder how much massaging their plots will undergo. Something tells me I might be disappointed in 2005 and 2007 (although at least the credited cast appears to remain unchanged for Goblet of Fire). Please don’t misunderstand; I enjoyed it. I guess I just had high expectations that weren’t quite satisfied (I call this the “Matrix Reloaded” effect).
Based on the title to this post, at least half our loyal readership should know that I am going to talk about Sam Fisher and the superb game Splinter Cell. If they didn’t, shame on them. In the game Splinter Cell, Sam Fisher has many tools at his disposal to carry out the fifth freedom. One of the most useful is the sticky camera, a controllable camera (fired from the SC-20K) that sticks to whatever it hits (except people, for some reason). The sticky camera is an invaluable tool to gather intelligence from a safe position.
Although this technology doesn’t exist yet (that we know about), it appears research is heading in that direction. Lockheed Martin is providing funding for a “smart bullet”, currently under development at the University of Florida. The bullet would be fired by compressed gas within the gun and would therefore be reusable, just like the sticky camera. It would wirelessly transmit information back to a computer up to 70m away. Although they haven’t found a specific use for it, detecting traces of TNT and counter-surveillance were discussed.
We all know the stories about ridiculous legislation that is still on the books in varying cities, counties, and states for reasons long forgotten which has now been relegated to nothing more than quaint trivia.
However, Ron Lewis, U.S. Representative from The Bluegrass State hopes to change all of that. Representative Lewis recently introduced House Resolution 3920, euphemistically titled “Congressional Accountability for Judicial Activism Act of 2004″, which would allow Congress to reverse judgments of the Supreme Court with a 2/3 vote in both houses.
I don’t want to go off on a rant here, and for once, I won’t. Thank you Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor at Slate for writing one for me.
I still haven’t decided how I feel about the failed attempt by a group which attempted to steal $70 million in gold bullion from Heathrow airport this morning.
Now we know active supercrime groups exist; they aren’t terribly successful, but they exist. I guess if anything this is a lesson in what not to do.
I desperately wanted this site to refrain from all things political when I helped found it. Unfortunately, the recent events at Abu Gharib and now the execution of Nick Berg have cut me to the core and I can’t hold back anymore. The political is the personal, and for me the political has fallen away and I am left so profoundly saddened that I have to say something.
Neither the photos of American soldiers denigrating Iraqi prisoners nor the video of Al-Qaida fighters beheading an American citizen shocked me. I have learned of and scene enough examples of human atrocity to know the baseness that man is capable of, and my eyes are long scarred with images of suffering and loss I fear I will one day see in person. In Abu Gharib and Nick Berg I see two cultures of people expressing their hatred of the other in the most poignant way possible. Male sexual humiliation strikes the heart of Islamic values in the same manner that the murder of innocents bites the soul of Americans. Both acts are so horrible that “worse” cannot be applied to either. Dante’s Hell has no level for this vulgarity and the shame of these actions is all of mankind’s to bear.
Hatred begets itself and certitude leads to nothing but violence. The world is snowballing out of control and the brinksmanship of violence shows no signs of slowing. Nobody is right anymore. There are no terrorists. There are no liberators. We are simply a people who have wandered so far from the path that we have forgotten we are lost.
I was told by a friend last night that the problem with religion is that it separates the sacred from the human, setting us apart from what we aspire to be. That, to me, is the essence of what makes the sacred desirable, for when I see what I am capable of in the actions of others I can only dream of a sacred that has abandoned man’s imperfections. All that separates us from it is a reluctance to let go of our hate; I pray for this realization.
When I was growing up I always wanted to work in the local Mom n’ Pop video store, which went by the name Video Venture. I have Pete to thank eternally for my overexposure to B-Horror and 2-bit action films of the 80’s. My dreams of becoming the next Tarantino were shattered when I learned that I would need to be 18 to work in the store because of the adult video section in the back. Aspirations thwarted for years I have finally discovered just what it is that I was missing. True Porn Clerk Stories by Ali Davis, an underemployed actress/improv comedian in Chicago, chronicles the year and a half she spent as a clerk at a “we rent all ratings” establishment. The journal was written in 2002 and Ali has moved onto a brighter porn free future, and as per usual I am a year behind the times in finding her story.
If this was a shitty movie review I would probably say that the journal is “laugh out loud funny” or to quote Brian Gallagher “One Hell of a ride!” I won’t taint your perceptions with a review, but I will say that you shouldn’t start reading it until you have a few hours on your hands because you won’t be able to stop scrolling. That just doesn’t have the same ring as saying you won’t be able to put it down. Ahhhh….another idiom lost forever to Shub-internet.
Since we are now the number 1 hit on Google I thought I would use our position at the top to speak about and down to all peasantry beneath our now godlike feet.
At number 2 this drawing: Now Deviant Art is a good site. They host a good deal of interesting and unique art from a eclectic collection of people. I actually think that user: supercrime’s “awen” is pretty good and it probably makes a cool tat. However, as for his creation being the symbol “worn by members of a vast army of “cursed children”.” I am somewhat skeptical. While I don’t want to brashly pass judgment on another’s prophetic vision I am doubtful of the authority of a prophetic figure who is thoroughly ungoogleable. Adrian Rane, the first man to experience the “supercrime prophecies” (a series of dreams and visions related to the apocalypse), returns only a single hit to a marketing firm which on investigation contains a simple misspelling of the name of Adrian Raine, a noted psychologist. Both Adrian Rane and supercrime fail to return hits on Everything2 and Snopes which leaves me befuddled about the existence of Adrian Rane and the supercrime prophecies.
So, I would like to put out the digital equivalent of an A.P.B. on Adrian Rane and all information leading to revelation of the supercrime prophecies. If you can find any information on this potentially important man and his revelations let me know and you’ll have earned yourself junior member status on the supercrime team.
The rest of the top ten Google hits are without much excitement with one exception.
At number 10 is Tone Milazzo’s personal site. Tone is an up and coming young comic artist whose book (comic book) Seize Him!: Confessions of a Hired Goon is worth checking out. I also found Tone’s 100 word story project intriguing, so take a look at that as well. As a budding writer who hasn’t written anything the 100 word story may be a good place for me to start. I contacted Tone about getting a copy of Seize Him! and he said that he has submitted the book to several publishers and some have expressed initial interest, but he is still waiting to hear back from some of the others. So, a possible publication appears to be several months in the future and Tone said he would let me know if/when that happens. I hope it does, and I’ll keep you updated.
I used to think that Courtney Love was nothing more than an overexposed pair of boobs. I thought that her only other marketable skills were suing people over the rights to Kurt Cobain’s music and being drunk and beligerent. I was wrong. With more eloquence than I could have imagined, Courtney has summed up the problems with the RIAA, the music industry, and recording in America in a way more deft than I could have managed. The article is from Salon.com and it is a bit old (2000), but it is by no means dated and it might still be considered forward thinking today. Her article is long and is worth reading in full. I was impressed by both the thought behind it and the delivery of it. Needless to say, read it. This is something I thought I would never say.
Courtney Love I salute you. And to make that point clearer, I’m going to go buy some Hole records.
We’re live and I feel great. Now, I don’t want to overhype supercrime before it really gets rolling, but it is going to be better than 10 superbowls.
I’m going to give you a choice, you can take the blue pill and hit the back button and you can wake up tomorrow with no knowledge of a world where Nathan, Jon, and a cadre of yet to be named associates have control of a publishing medium for radical introspection, humor, and world domination with enough bandwidth to use it, or you can take the red pill and come back tomorrow to see just how deep this rabbit hole is going to go. I leave the choice to you…